Friday, June 09, 2006

A Letter Saying Why

Reid is a good friend - the kind of flesh-and-blood friend we all need. He is commenting on my post "Because I'm Feeling Ornery" with the following questions and I thought I'd address them as a separate post.

"I'd rather like to know why you're ornery (or hopefully were ornery - are you over it yet?). Why did you quote, or set up, two Protestant "saints" and then knock them over with James the Lesser? What's eatin' at you man?

Because I'm a sea, or a large puddle, of doubt, Reid. I have great respect for much that Luther and Calvin have thought, of course, and have no intention or desire to excommunicate them. They are far bigger men than me, intellectually and theologically if not in other ways.

I suppose, when it comes down to it, I am deeply wounded. And I feel as if I've lost the ability to be certain, which is part of that hurt. That is not to say that there are not things of which I am certain. But my brain is still my brain, my soul my soul, and regardless of the outward (some might say extreme) changes of my life I am me. I don't know that I could ever be a fully contented child of any church (though of the Church, yes). And I don't know if that is the blessing of God or if it is the curse of my rebellion.

I am a catholic Christian. That also makes me, now, a Catholic Christian. Every Sunday I proclaim my justification by affirming the creeds. But like Bono, as far as a particular institution is concerned, I still haven't found what I'm looking for. What I long for is a blending of the best that is Catholic/Orthodox and Protestant. And I don't mean the via media of Anglicanism, though there is much that I find admirable there. One Body. And I want to be challenged - not with rote answers, but with the intellectual and theological struggle that I understand as signifying life.

I see the excellences and I am aware of the dangers. And it all makes me so transitional.

I rankle at others' certainty. Even the certainty of Luther or Calvin or Catholicism, perhaps especially their certainty. (Maybe not even so much the certainty as the militant certainty, the stridency.)

I wonder if Western thought has muddled theology, in general, by being insanely, definitively cataphatic. There is a time, people, to let off. To know that salvation is not in the knowing, but in the being known. There is a time to trade in the smallness of our orthodoxy for the affluence of our love. I am not against right teaching. Nevertheless, orthodoxy is not primarily a sword, but a salve.

Perhaps we should hold our authority as believers less as soldiers and more as parents or brothers or sisters. There is a time for discipline and correction and rebuke. But that lies within the greater context of love - love of God and love of neighbor.

And now I'm rambling.

I am hurt and I am confused by the hurt. I lash out to hurt others because I am hurting. I am like you and you and you. I am both lost and found. I am both now and not yet. And theological systems make me crazy.

Does that help you answer your questions? I hope it does. You know me because you know yourself. I only want the peace of Christ, a peace that cannot be found merely in the teaching of Christ but only within His person.


Meg said...

That's one thing I refuse to be hurt about -- denominationalism. I could really care less what church people go to, even though I was raised Baptist in the home of a minister.

Basically, as long as you have a personal relationship with God and love others and live your life in such a way to give evidence of both states, then I could care less what cross you wear, which bible you read, or what church you're at.

Then again, we're probably on different moral pages, too:).

But hey -- I was born wild.

Reid said...

I have always appreciated your honesty, your integrity. Thank you for opening up your pain to anyone who takes the time to read.

Scott, I must disagree with you about one thing. You said, "They are far bigger men than me." I believe that when Jesus' kingdom is fully come, this sentiment and all like it will be washed away for all eternity.

The Lord is writing a wonderful story, a sublime drama with your life. Your pain is part of the plot.

It is a privilege to be your friend.